International Sunday School Lesson for September 29, 2013
Scripture Text: Genesis 11:1-9
Purpose: To recognize the temptation to be as powerful and important as God
Genesis 11:1-9 (CEB)
1 All people on the earth had one language and the same words. 2 When they traveled east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, "Come, let’s make bricks and bake them hard." They used bricks for stones and asphalt for mortar. 4 They said, "Come, let’s build for ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and let’s make a name for ourselves so that we won’t be dispersed over all the earth."
5 Then the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the humans built. 6 And the Lord said, "There is now one people and they all have one language. This is what they have begun to do, and now all that they plan to do will be possible for them. 7 Come, let’s go down and mix up their language there so they won’t understand each other’s language." 8 Then the Lord dispersed them from there over all of the earth, and they stopped building the city.9 Therefore, it is named Babel, because there the Lord mixed up the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord dispersed them over all the earth.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
The story of the “Tower of Babel” has always fascinated me,especially when compared to the events of Pentecost found in The Book of Acts chapter 2.
In the story of Babel, we find the people of earth speaking one language, while in the story of Pentecost we find the people speaking many languages, which is a direct result of what God accomplished in Genesis 11. Yet God, at an appointed time, reverses what had been set in order shortly after the flood. In both cases God created a diaspora, one to save a world from its selfish ambitions, and the other to save mankind from a world of despair, and bring hope into all of the world.
Think about a world that had little communion with their creator, left to their own imagination and dreams, they sought to be something special in the eyes of the world. Their motives seem to be egotistical in nature, they wanted fame for themselves. While in the Book of Acts we find a group that had spent at least three years communing with God, in the form of Christ. The goal of these believers was only to share what they knew with the rest of the world. In one God uses language to confuse, while in the other God uses language to unite.
Notice also the difference in attitude, in Genesis it is all about us, and ourselves, while in Acts 2:42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. 43 A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles.44 All the believers were united and shared everything.
Our lesson text is the final text of a pre-history narrative. With the next chapter we are brought to a new place, the beginning of the Hebrew nation and the fixation is upon creating an for communication, starting with Abram, and also of uniting a people as one, a people that will represent God’s ideas and morals as an example for the rest of the world.
Also God is creating a legacy whereby He will once again say “Come let’s go down.” This time He will come down as a babe, born of a virgin. He will learn and grow and teach a small band of common fishermen, and laborers. The message will contrast greatly with those in Babel, the message will be “go and tell” with one voice, not confusion, focused only on the prize of eternal life, and sharing and loving until that time comes.
There is an old poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelly, titled “Oxymandias” the Greek name for an old Egyptian pharaoh called “Ramses the Great.”
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'
I think of the verse “one life will soon be past, only what’s done for God will last.”